Sister Shirley Walden
My name is Shirley Walden of Greenfield, IN. I was born in Tompkinsville, KY. I was brought up in an old fashioned Missionary Baptist church. I was taught that if I wanted to go to heaven I had to be saved. When I was eleven years old our church was having a revival and on Friday morning service I went to the alter. I don't remember how long I was there. I just remembering telling the Lord if he would save me I would do anything he wanted me to do. I just couldn't seem to pray any more. Everything was quiet for a while. We had a hand shake and they were singing "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder". On that Sunday when the pastor asked if anyone wanted to join the church I stood up and told the church what the Lord had done for me on Friday. I joined the church and was baptized the following Sunday.
Brother Billy Walden
I was born January 27, 1938 in Monroe County, KY. My parents were Missionary Baptist. I was taught all my life, that if I was to have a home in heaven when my time on earth was over, I had to be saved. In other words be born from above. At the age of thirty-seven, a fear came upon me about where my soul would go if I was to die. That troubled me to the point that I began to search for the Lord. That search ended December 4th, 1975, in a small baptist church in Fishers, IN, about 8:30 one Thursday evening, when I was saved by God's grace. I am now seventy-nine years old. The best advice I can give anyone is to make peace with God before they die.
Sister Morgan Besser
I was around the age of eight when I realized I didn't know God. I felt a heaviness in my chest, I felt a separation from God and the people all around me who served him. In that moment of realization I knelt down in my seat and began to pray. Although I prayed that night I still felt the heaviness and separation. I went for several years, praying when I felt the intensity of this separation but still I didn't know God. One night at my home church I prayed but I felt too distracted and that I would never find God if I didn't find quiet so I could focus. I went into a separate room to be by myself, I knelt there and prayed for what seemed like a long time. I was so tired emotionally, physically and most importantly, spiritually. It wasn't in the act of praying or even the words that I said but all at once I felt a relief of the weight that was on my chest. It felt like the separation I had once felt was gone. In that exact moment of prayer I surrendered my all to God, believing that he was in heaven and was the only one who could save me.
Elder Melvin Jones
I was saved at Athens Missionary Baptist Church in Tompkinsville, KY on February 18th, 1969. I heard the gospel as a very young boy and it pierced my soul at about nine years of age but my parents got out of church about that time. I never told anyone I was lost and no one ever asked me, so I just went on in life with a fear of dying and going to hell.
My dad got terminal lung cancer when I was about eighteen years old and it caused him to realize he had failed me and he became burdened for me. Going in for surgery, he called me over to him and asked me if I would start going to church. I said “yes” and I began to feel a strong conviction of my sins.
One night, my mom and sister came into me where I was sleeping and talked to me about being saved. We prayed and I kept praying after they left. I wanted to be saved my way (at home, alone) but it just didn’t work.
At my dad’s showing, Brother E.C. Butler came to me and asked me a question that almost made me drop to the floor he asked me “have you been saved”, and I had to say “no”.
At my dad’s funeral as Brother Butler was preaching, I realized his message was from God and I began to be very convicted of my sins. I closed him, everybody and everything out. I began to pray for my soul. The last thing I remember saying to God was “I will to do anything to be saved and I will seek it till I die, and if You don’t save me, I will just die and go to hell”.
I had a total desire and determination and that was what worked. I heard His sweet still small voice say “Son, you have a home in heaven when this life is over”. All the conviction, trouble and fear left and a peace came to me (who at the beginning of that day was the saddest boy in the world) that made me the happiest boy in the world. I knew I was saved and knew what I heard God’s people say “You will know when God saves you”. After this, God let me see a vision of entering in to heaven and a hand there to greet me. I couldn’t keep from telling someone, so I told my mom. I was kind of in a trance I suppose at this time and didn’t know what was going on. I remember Brother Butler coming to me once, but don’t know why. Maybe it was when I was still lost and praying? I suppose (after I got saved) that something happened to cause him to believe something had taken place and he came the second time and asked me if I was saved. This time I could give him an answer and smile about it. I said “Yes, God just saved my soul”. He asked me if I wanted him to tell everyone and I said “I don’t care if you tell the whole world”. So he announced it to a house full of people, some saved, some lost, my peers, my bosses, and neighbors. I’m glad they witnessed that great thing that happened to me that day. I’m glad He(God) didn’t save me my way but His way so that He would receive the honor and glory.
All the worldly sorrow had left me because I knew, I hadn’t lost my dad forever, just for a short time. I left that church house that day with a smile on my face. My Godly sorrow had also left and I had peace to my soul. Now I’m not afraid to die, to die is gain.
I hope this blesses God’s people and will be help to those of you that are lost. Please call on Him as I did. Call on him with all your heart, total desire, and total determination.
God’s Child, Melvin Jones
Elder Nick Reuter
My name is Nicholas Reuter. I was born and raised in the Catholic Church, and I was taken to St. Joseph Catholic Church in Shelbyville, Indiana almost every week for the first sixteen years of my life. I was brought up by devout Catholic parents whom I consider to be excellent people. I received Catholic baptism as an infant, and I took part in many of the Catholic rites and sacraments (confession to a priest, communion, etc.) as I became of age. Striving to be a good person or trying to do right was always emphasized by my parents and the local Catholic church I attended. So, when I succeeded in pleasing my family and being a “good kid,” I assumed I had all I needed to be right with God. By all appearances, I was a well-behaved, although introverted young man. People did not see that I was arrogant, envious, and hateful. After all, I didn’t want them to see. God saw. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” That being the case, I was able to convince myself I was much better than I really was. Like many people, I lived with the delusion that I was good enough to make it to heaven. I did not understand that God is holy and that all of us have come up short (Rom. 3:23). I didn’t fully comprehend the fact that I was a sinner, nor did I grasp the implications of that fact. Romans 1:18 states, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,” (emphasis added). I mean, I knew I wasn’t perfect, but it never occurred to me that my secret sins were deserving of God’s wrath. After all, in my mind, I wasn’t all that bad. I didn’t understand that I needed to be converted or born again to be right with God. I also didn’t understand that this is something God accomplishes when a person repents or turns away from their sins and trusts in Jesus Christ as the Only Way to be saved. I never had the biblical Gospel presented to me in all of its clarity. But God, in His great love, made a way.
I was first exposed to the biblical Gospel when I became associated with Hicks and Larkey families that attended Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis. Questions concerning my Catholic beliefs and my standing with God started arising when I began dating my wife, Melissa Hicks, in the spring of 2008. When I visited Bethel with Melissa, I heard people talk about an experience in which God saved them. I didn’t understand what that meant at first, and I just wrote it off as “one of their beliefs.” However, the more I heard about it, the more I became convinced that there was a very noticeable difference between what they had and what I had (or didn’t have). It scared me to think that I had missed something, so I tried very hard to push the notion out of my mind. Whenever I was around people who were talking about the time and the place the Lord saved them, I would feel very uncomfortable and uneasy inside. I know now that it was the Holy Spirit convincing me that I was a sinner in need, but at the time I just wanted to get away from that uncomfortable feeling of guilt. The Lord was dealing with me and drawing me to Himself, but I kept on trying to convince myself that everything was alright.
In August 2008, and evangelist by the name of Phil Mayle came to Fairland, Indiana to preach in a tent revival after being invited by Bradley Hicks, the interim pastor of Fairland Baptist Church. I reluctantly agreed to come after Melissa pleaded with me to go. While I was there, the conviction got heavier and heavier, and I truly began to feel weighed down by my sins (Psalm 38:4). I didn’t want to even think about the possibility God revealing His wrath from heaven against all my ungodliness, but as the preacher preached on Hell, it became more and more of an unavoidable reality. I listened to the preaching, the testimonies, and the sound of those praying for people like me. I seem to remember a man coming up to me and saying, “You’re lost, and you need something that no priest can give you.” It wasn’t so much what the man said, but what the Lord was making me aware of on the inside. The truths from the Scriptures that were expressed in the words and actions from the people under that tent pierced me deeper than I thought was possible (Hebrews 4:12-13), but I kept on trying to avoid reality.
I went to bed that night on August 15, 2008 feeling terribly convinced that something was not right, and I woke up the next morning much the same. Although, I once again, I tried to ignore what God had shown me and was continuing to show me. I left my parent’s house to run some errands, and I arrived back at home sometime after 12 o’clock noon. It may be worth noting that while I was driving toward Indianapolis on I-74, I passed a billboard with a short and simple message, “Avoid Hell. Repent.” I had driven by billboards with religious messages in the past, but this one hit home. Yet, I continued to attempt to distract myself from what was true. I had never truly repented of my sins and believed in Jesus, and I had God’s wrath abiding on me (John 3:36). I had arrived home, and I was getting ready to go visit Melissa when the Lord started to deal with me very heavily. I was in the kitchen when I remember asking, “What do I need to do?” It seemed that I was finally willing to hear what God was trying to communicate to me. As I sat in a chair with the Scriptures opened up, it wasn’t so much the particulars of what I read, it was that my heart was finally yielding and willing to hear. The more willing I became, the greater my sins seemed as God revealed the truth of it all to my heart (Mark 4:24-25). Then, I knew I needed to pray. On the kitchen floor I pleaded with the Lord to save me. I remember distinctly, I couldn’t seem to get low enough as I was praying. With my face to the floor, I continued to ask…and to ask…and to ask. God had brought me low, and He was about to help me (Psalm 116:6).
I begged the Lord for what seemed like forever before I realized that I truly couldn’t do anything for Him to save me. There was no set of magic prayers or words to say. I remember looking up and seeing a clock that read 12:55 and feeling powerless to do anything else. So, I got up, walked out of the house, got into my Jeep, and started driving. I was about a mile down the road when I cried from the depths of my soul, “Lord, I just want to do your will!” The very next moment, He saved me. That was the moment I repented and believed in Jesus for the very first time. I thought I believed in Him before then, but I had never surrendered my entire self and will to Him in faith until that moment. I know that was the moment the Lord saved me because He, God the Holy Spirit, came to live deep within me. His Presence acted as a Witness that I now belonged to Him (Romans 8:16; 1 John 4:13; 1 John 5:10). That is why I felt such peace, love, and joy at that moment. I was experiencing the result or fruit of God’s Presence within me (Galatians 5:22-23). I knew what had happened, and I knew that I needed to tell someone. I finished driving to Melissa’s house, rejoicing the whole way. When I finally saw her, I hugged her and told her, “The Lord just saved my soul!” She asked me to tell her what had happened, and I proceeded to tell her about everything that had occurred. The Lord allowed me to tell it at the tent revival that night as well, and it’s been life abundant ever since. God has continued to lead me and guide me through this life. The same fruits of the Holy Spirit I felt the day I was saved, God has continued to seek to bear in me ever since.
If you are reading this, please know that God desires to save you too (1 Timothy 2:4). Nothing in this life can compare to the fullness you can find in knowing Christ. But please, do not take my word for it. Seek Him for yourself.
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13).